With Reliance Jio reportedly prepping to launch an affordable Android smartphone in association with Google, a new report now suggests that Airtel is likely to follow suit to better compete with its arch-nemesis.

As per an Economic Times report, India’s erstwhile largest wireless carrier is in talks with smartphone makers to develop low-cost 4G handsets that the company plans to bundle with its mobile connections.

The devices will be full-fledged ‘smartphones’ that will cost only around Rs. 2,500 ($35). ET further adds that Airtel will offer both locked and unlocked devices under this initiative. The details are, however, scarce at the moment. Locked devices will be a bit of a novelty in the Indian market, so it will be interesting to see how they will be received by consumers across the country.

US carriers are well-known for offering locked smartphones, thus, reducing the huge burden of paying in full up-front. You can opt for the service plan you prefer and then pay out the same over a certain period of time. This not only gets you a new device but the calling and data services at an attractive price. Now, imagine this model replicated for a budget phone (already tested via JioPhone) in a market like India.

Meanwhile, the report is seemingly corroborated by Light Reading. A senior executive at a domestic manufacturer has confirmed that Airtel is indeed working with several homegrown brands such as Karbonn, Lava, and Micromax, to launch co-branded 4G devices locked to its network.

“Yes, Airtel is exploring the option of coming up with bundled offers or devices with Airtel SIM lock-in. However, I will not be able to comment further on it because of confidentiality”, the unnamed official reportedly told the publication.

The news comes less than a week after reports suggested that Reliance Jio is looking to launch new ‘affordable’ Android smartphones before the end of this year. The company had announced a tie-up with Google earlier this year for precisely this reason, so it will be interesting to see how things will go in the coming days.